Cathy Seiden bought a $1 million winning lottery ticket this month for the Mega Millions game.
And then her husband, Dave, lost it.
Dave Seiden says he put the ticket on the kitchen counter before the March 18 drawing. So when his wife called him two days after the drawing asking him where the ticket was, he assumed it was still there. It wasn't.
"We didn't know where it was," Dave said. "We tore our whole house apart trying to find it."
Fortunately for Dave, the ticket was found. This week, the Downers Grove couple were able to claim the prize.
On Thursday, Illinois Lottery officials presented the lucky couple with an oversized check for the $1 million prize at the grocery store where Cathy bought the winning ticket. The "quick pick" ticket was purchased from the lottery self-serve machine at Jewel-Osco, 2317 75th St., in Woodridge.
The ticket matched the first five numbers, but not the Mega Ball, in the March 18 Mega Millions drawing. The winning numbers: 11-19-24-33-51-(07).
Cathy, an occasional lottery player, says she bought the Mega Millions ticket while buying three scratch-off tickets for St. Patrick's Day. When she got home, she gave the Mega Millions ticket to Dave.
But the couple didn't watch the drawing on TV and didn't check the winning numbers the following day.
It wasn't until Cathy went into work on Thursday, March 20, that she learned from her boss about the $1 million ticket being sold at the Jewel-Osco where she regularly shops.
By that time, the ticket had gone missing.
"I knew we misplaced it and were still looking for it," Cathy recalled. "But when my boss told me that a $1 million ticket was sold at my Jewel, I knew we had to find our ticket."
She said she immediately called Dave and told him he had to find the ticket.
The extensive search of the Seiden home started as soon as the couple got home from work. Cathy says it took about an hour. Dave says it felt like forever.
In the end, they found the ticket in a stack of papers on the counter.
The retailer will receive a $10,000 bonus, 1 percent of the prize amount, for selling the winning ticket.
After taxes, the Seidens will receive a lump sum of $700,000. They said they plan to use the money to pay for college for their son and daughter.
Cathy said their daughter, who is a junior in high school, just started searching for colleges. "We told her it's unlimited now," she said.
They have no plans to quit their jobs. Dave works in information technology for Valley View School District 365U, which serves Romeoville and Bolingbrook. Cathy is a first-grade teacher for Downers Grove School District 58.
"It's not quit-your-job kind of money," Cathy said. "But we're so grateful that we have it. Now we can look at colleges with our daughter knowing that wherever she wants to go we can send her."
So what would have happened if the ticket was never found?
"There would have been much grief between us," Cathy said.
Dave immediately chimed in, "I don't even want to think about that."